Right Job → Wrong Job

Stop SignPerhaps nothing is more defeating and depressing than to enter into a relationship believing one thing, only to find out after some time that what you believed is not true.

So it can be with a new job, where your expectations are usually established through a series of steps, including the initial job description, interviews with key personnel in the company, and the answers provided to your careful questions about performance, goals, long term plans, and specific targets.

Early on – usually within days – you take your interpretation of expectations, and form a plan (often in the form of 30-60-90 day planning), get approval or further input for your plan as laid out, and then dive into working your plan.   What is important at this point is that you are gaining critical information about the very nature of whatever problems you encounter, and are planning solutions to be implemented, based upon your past experiences, and careful, independent investigation.

Stuff happens. Distractions, emergencies, lots of things that can throw you off track, but may provide subtle hints about company culture that you thought you understood. Or the track you thought the company was headed down now has a significant bend to the right or left.

For me, once upon a time, I sought a shift from a business focused in the ICU and CCU, to one with products focused in the OR, and specifically Cardiovascular Surgery.

Attending the national sales meeting shortly after my hire with this new company, and hearing the following pronouncement from the National Sales Manager.

“ you are expected to spend 80% of your time in the ICU and CCU with these specific products and the new ones we are rolling out”.


Fortunately, things worked out for me (and the company), as we shifted a much greater percentage of our product focus to the OR over the next two and subsequent years.

But I will not forget that terrible sinking feeling – upon hearing the above admonition from sales leadership – that I had made a huge mistake.

And I am finding more examples of late, from my experience and others, that often what is described as the “job” and the organizations “expectations”, are not necessarily true.

Sometimes it will be revealed within the first several weeks. Sometimes it takes multiple months to become more evident. In any case, it can prove to be a shock to your system, and a cause for some panic.

So – what can you do?

I would love to say that if you dig as deep as possible into the company, the culture, the real evidence of past and present decisions and directions – that you should be able to better understand the situation before you become stuck – both literally and figuratively.

But I think the evidence is there to suggest that it is too easy to be fooled into believing what is said, and fooled into buying what you want to see and believe.

And I also believe that much of the “blame” for these situations rests with the hiring company or  individual –

  • for not honestly assessing their needs…
  • for not converting those needs to an intelligent and accurate job description
  • for not understanding their own goals and objectives well enough to verbalize them accurately
  • for not clearly laying out expectations (short, medium, and long term) to their new prospective employees.
  • and maybe more often than you would like to believe… for doing those things, but still not seeing that the source of change needed to allow for solving problems or improving situations, may be in them.

So here is the situation you face. You ask the appropriate questions and perform enough due diligence to be convinced that the position and you are a good fit. The company seems satisfied that they have identified the best candidate for the needs as they understand, have identified and explained them.

Then it all starts to fall apart.

As I see it you have two choices:

  1. Engage with your boss (or perhaps up a level) to re-set expectations on both sides.
  2. Begin the search to remove yourself from the undesirable situation.

Unfortunately,  early enthusiasm for a position or candidate can be overwhelmed by reality. If neither side can make accommodations to resetting the expectations, objectives and goals of a position, then separation will happen – either in a controlled and business oriented fashion, or laden with acrimony and hard feelings.

One way both sides can gain something from the experience.

The other way no one wins.

About John Stott

Senior Sales and Marketing Manager
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